This month sees the release of my first YA novel, FLYING BLIND, which is the first book in a trilogy called The Dragon Diaries. From my very first announcement of this series, people have asked me the same question - why did I decide to enter the YA market?
This isn't an unreasonable question. A lot of authors - particularly romance authors, it seems - are choosing to enter the YA market and launching new series in that genre. But in my case, I didn't choose the genre. I followed the story, and it led to YA.
First let's talk about my books. I write the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances and have been doing so for several years. (http://www.deborahcooke.com) These books feature dragon shape shifter heroes - called the Pyr - and the women who love them. Each book is a romance. Each book focuses on the firestorm of one dragon shifter - literally sparks fly when he meets the woman who can bear his son. Although the firestorm is about biology, the dragon dude in each book learns that there's more to it than that. No spoiler to note that each one realizes the merit of a permanent relationship with the heroine, and that each partnership results in a team that is greater than the sum of the parts. There are continuing characters in this series and consistent plot elements - like dragon fights, and the persistent interference of the bad dragon shifters, who are called Slayers.
In this world, there is only one female dragon shifter at a time. She's called the Wyvern and has extra powers - one of them is that she's a prophetess. She's a bit mysterious and elusive, and doesn't always get involved in the dirty business of living and fighting like the dragon guys do. Well, in book #3 of this series - KISS OF FATE - the current Wyvern died. There was a child conceived in the firestorm of that book, and that child was a girl. Everyone in the Pyr world assumed that this little girl would become the next Wyvern. They named her Zoë.
All was fine and good in Dragonfire, and I kept writing new books for the series. Number 6, DARKFIRE KISS, was released in May of this year, and #7, FLASHFIRE, will be out in January. The kids were growing up, and Zoë did show some early promise in the Wyvern department. I began to become quite interested in her, as well as the other dragon kids.
And that was when I realized that she'd come fully into her powers at puberty - just like the guys do.
Zoë's story would have to be a coming of age story, the story of an apparently normal teenager coming into her dragon shifter powers. Although Zoë would be surrounded by dragon shifters, they would all be guys except for her. She'd have her pals, the other sons of the Pyr, and there would be the dads - but there would be no Wyvern to tell her how to do what she'd been born to do. And there'd be no references, either, as the Wyvern has always been apart from the world. I saw angst for Zoë in every direction!
So, I followed Zoë to a YA trilogy, which is a spin-off of Dragonfire. While I expected her story would be fun to write, I never realized how much fun it would be. I wrote it in first person POV, as her voice was stronger to me that way. I discovered that she was already having dreams - although she didn't realize they were Wyvern dreams - and I met her very best friend in the whole world, Meagan. I learned that Zoë thinks she's a loser, because she's fifteen and a half and the only thing she's good at is drawing dragons. The guys she's grown up with have been mastering their dragon shifter powers for years now, and she can't do any of it.Her dad is impatient for Zoë to come into her Wyvern abilities, but Zoë is more impatient than anyone.
Until it all begins. It begins in a way that she should have been able to anticipate - the Pyr are charged with defending the treasures of the earth, which includes humans. No surprise then that Zoë first begins to shift shape when she tries to defend her best friend from a bully...but nothing is as easy as she anticipated.
Following the story took me into some new territory. Not just a visit to the YA genre, but a whole new challenge for my dragon shifters, one to be fought by a younger generation of Pyr who are desperate to prove themselves. I had a great time imagining what it would be like as a teenager, first to hope for dragon shifter powers, then to start developing them. Zoë's journey continues in December with book #2, WINGING IT. The trilogy concludes next June with BLAZING THE TRAIL.
And now a question for all of you. What special powers would you like to have had as a teenager? Would your answer be different once you became an adult?
Deborah Cooke has always been fascinated with dragons, although she has never understood why they have to be the bad guys. She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies. She is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels, and has written over forty romance novels and novellas. She has also been published under the names Claire Cross and Claire Delacroix.
Deborah makes her home in Canada with her husband. When she isn't writing, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns.
Zoë is the Wyvern of the Pyr – the one female dragon shape shifter with special powers. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr, and her powers are AWOL. Worse, there’s no reference book to consult, and the last Wyvern is dead….
Everything changes when Zoë’s best friend is bullied and Zoë reacts. Before she can blink twice, her inner dragon is loose, and she’s suspended from school and headed to a shape shifter boot camp with guys she’s known all her life. But soon she’s doubting her powers – and even some of her friendships.
Zoë quickly realizes she has to master her powers yesterday – there’s danger ahead and boot camp is a trap. A secretive group, the Mages, want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line – unless Zoë and her friends can solve the riddle and work together to save their own kind…